The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
1692. TheAtlantis, captained by veteran seaman Benjamin Archer, flies the colours of an English merchantman on the high seas between the English Channel and the Caribbean.
But she also runs up the 'jolie rouge' - the Jolly Roger - whenever the prospect of plundering a Spanish treasure ship presents itself.
Nipping at Spain's empire is common practice for state-sponsored privateers like theAtlantis at a time when lesser European powers dare not directly make war on Spain.
But when those governments abandon the practice of issuing letters of marque to privateers against the Spanish galleons, many of the crews turn pirate.
Such is the fate of Archer's men.
The crew is forced to sign the ship's articles consenting to their new piratical ways, thereby placing their heads in a noose.
Unless, that is, they can stage a mutiny and turn Archer over to the authorities in the Caribbean city of Port Royal, a popular homeport for privateers - and notorious for its gaudy displays of wealth and loose morals, the 'wickedest city on earth'.
But superstition is rife among seamen and the presence on board theAtlantis of two women - one a high-born French stowaway Catherine and the other a Jamaican slave-born 'cabin boy' Serafine - will only be a bad omen if they are discovered.
Worse, the runaway is thought by her family to possess the powers of a witch while the 'boy' worships voodoo gods who rule life from beneath the waves.
Will the mutiny succeed?
What is the secret bond between Archer and Serafine?
And can Catherine escape the captain's determination to make her his after she has fallen for another young officer?
Is some unstoppable divine force slowly gathering to punish the profane?
Johanna Craven's impressive latest novel combines the island paradise world ofMutiny on the Bounty with the visual and visceral immediacy ofMaster and Commander, whilst also delving into the legacies of colonialism explored in Joseph Conrad's sinisterHeart of Darkness.
Beyond the power and control of man lies what …?
Johanna Craven is an Australian-born writer, film composer and pianist. She has lived in Melbourne and Los Angeles and is currently based in London. Her debut novelMusic from Standing Waves was released in August 2015 It was followed byGoldfields: A Ghost Story in the History and Horrors short story series, published in April 2016, and the second in the series,The Dutchman, in July.